Anti-AFSPA cry in Lok Sabha Time for the Army Act to go


Unlikely that the Government will listen, but a point has been delivered. That is, it is not the North East and Jammu and Kashmir alone which have raised their voice against the continued imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act on these two regions but also some MPs. That the voice to repeal the said Army Act was raised in the Lok Sabha makes the matter all that more noteworthy. Also significant to note that the MPs who raised the anti-AFSPA voice belonged to different political parties. A significant pointer that though it is Irom Sharmila who alone has been fasting against the imposition of the said Act, there are others out there ready to speak out against this Act and this is what is significant. The whole of Manipur came under this Army Act in 1980, but it is important to note that the number of armed groups has only increased in the years gone by. A more than significant pointer that this Act has failed to keep the armed movement subdued. Far from keeping the armed movement under control, it has only added to the feeling of alienation amongst the civilians and this could have only aided the armed movement. Also significant to note that Irom Sharmila began her fast after the infamous Malom massacre of 2000 in which ten innocent civilians were mowed down in firing by the Assam Rifles. Such is the sense of immunity granted by this Act that Manipur has witnessed numerous mass massacres such as the RIMS massacre, the Heirangoithong killings, Tonsen Lamkhai, Malom and numerous other cases of enforced disappearance.
How does this Act help in containing the armed movement ? Manipur’s experience with this Act should tell a story of its own. It was after the battered and bullet riddled body of Th Manorama was discovered in 2004 after she was picked up by Assam Rifles personnel that Manipur erupted as one, against the brutal killing as well as against the continued imposition of the Army Act. The nude protest in front of Kangla, which then housed the Assam Rifles gave fresh impetus to the movement and catapulted Manipur into the international consciousness. So intense was the movement that the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh of the Congress had to personally fly down to Imphal to address the people and announce the constitution of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee to look into the continued imposition of the said Act. That the Government of India slept over the recommendations of the Jeevan Reddy Committee is there for all to see, but remember that the State Government had to roll back the disturbed area tag from the Municipal areas of Imphal thereby making AFSPA redundant in the capital city. Now that a number of MPs have raised their voice against the continued imposition of AFSPA in the North East, one can and should expect a renewed movement against the said Act.


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